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Suspension material? Barzal ejected for cross-checking Rutta in Game 5

Mat Barzal cross-checks Jan Rutta in the face at the end of the second period of Game 5, and ultimately receives a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.

[UPDATE: Barzal has been fined $5,000 for cross-checking Jan Rutta.]

Islanders star forward Mathew Barzal received a game misconduct and cross-checking major after catching Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta up high. That bit of violence took place at a common time: after the final whistle of the period. (In the case of that Barzal cross-check on Rutta, it happened at the end of the second period of Islanders - Lightning Game 5.)

After potting two more goals after Barzal was ejected, the Lightning beat the Islanders 8-0 in Game 5.

Barzal ejected for cross-checking Rutta; Suspension seems unlikely

Did Barzal deserve a game misconduct and cross-checking major for his hit on Rutta? That might boil down to personal opinion.

Some believe it was a “soft major,” others view it as an example of when “letting them play” goes wrong.

Should Barzal receive a suspension for his Game 5 cross-check on Rutta? That’s fuel for another debate.

But is it likely that he will? Probably not; as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed, especially notable cross-checks have resulted in fines, at most, lately. Friedman compared Barzal’s cross-check on Rutta to a hit Ryan McDonagh delivered on Mason Marchment during the First Round. In that case, McDonagh received a $5K fine.

The second period of Game 5 ended with the Lightning up 6-0 over the Islanders, so Barzal’s ejection didn’t exactly play a big role in the outcome. Rutta did not immediately return to Game 5.

So, it’s tough to imagine Barzal receiving a suspension, rather than a fine. (Or no supplemental discipline at all.)

But should the NHL consider adjusting, even such tweaks don’t happen until next season? Between moments like these and that notorious Tom Wilson - Artemi Panarin altercation, it might be time to tweak how much you can get away with during “scrums.”

(Then again, maybe not.)

ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (TBL leads series 3-2) - series livestream link

Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
Game 5: Lightning 8, Islanders 0
Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)

*if necessary

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.